This is an illustration page of the
Copyright Registration and Renewal Information Chart and Web Site

Visitors to this site who are unfamiliar with copyright terminology and context should begin with the
step-by-step tree-view chart for answers about copyright law.

(see illustration at right)

Once readers have visited both the tree-view chart and one or more illustrations pages such as this one, they are advised to learn how courts have ruled on specific aspects of copyright by going to pages of Citations and Court Summaries and by reading the copyright laws themselves.  (The CopyrightData web site has all versions of the United States Copyright Act in effect from 1909 to the present.)

For an overview of copyright law and this web site, visit the One Page Guide

Click below to go to:

First page of Illustrations section Site Map Copyright Law Contact


This is a work about copyright law.  As such, it discusses the means by which a creator goes about protecting his legal rights to his work. Thus, it should not surprise any reader that this work bears the following notice:

The Copyright Registration and Renewal Information Chart and Web Site
© 2007,2008 David P. Hayes

If you’re here, it might be you want to know whether a particular work is protected by copyright.  The tree-view chart on this site can help, as can the illustrations pages which offer documentation about the main ideas in the tree-view chart.  To get the most out of this site, you should have the following information close at hand.  (Absence of some pieces of information won’t necessarily preclude a definitive conclusion about copyright status from being reached.)
  • the wording of any copyright notice on the work itself;
  • the text of any copyright registration (see below for more about this);
  • the text of any copyright renewal;
  • the country in which the work was first copyrighted, and/or in which its creator(s) was at the time a citizen;
  • information on any deposit of the work (or copy thereof) with the registrar of copyrights for the nation of copyright;
  • information about works from which the work under investigation derived some (or all) of its content.

    Note: copyright registration and renewal records on U.S. works can be searched through resources made available by the Library of Congress of the United States.  Works registered during and after 1978 (and renewal records for earlier works where renewal occurred during or after 1978) can be searched at the Library of Congress web site (   Registrations and renewals filed prior to 1978 can be searched in card files at the Library of Congress or in cumulative catalogs published by the Library.  Bearing the title “Catalog of Copyright Entries” (and variations of that), these volumes are available in some large public and university libraries.  For motion pictures filed through the end of 1969, researchers can use the “Film Superlist” series of books (created by Walter E. Hurst, continued by D. Richard Baer), which contain the registration listings of the cumulative catalogs plus renewal information which the publisher collated to appear alongside the relevant records.  For the years 1950-59, rival publisher Milestone & Co. issued Motion Picture Copyrights and Renewals 1950-59 (by David Pierce), which contains comparable information.  (See a sample of how these books present information.)

    (Those who choose to search U.S. registration and renewal records through the original forms filed with the Registrar of Copyrights may do so at the Library of Congress, Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., fourth floor, Washington, DC.  Call (202) 707-6850 for current operating hours.)

Except where stated otherwise, the laws and clauses explained in the tree-view chart and illustrations pages are American laws and parts within.  The copyright status of a work as determined through that chart is the copyright status within the United States, except where an explicit statement is given regarding the copyright status in another country.

The tree-view chart presumes that the user is an American or someone seeking to know the copyright status of a work as it pertains to copyright protection in the United States.  Works from countries other than the U.S. are treated on the chart only to the extent to which protection is afforded within the United States.

Readers who have gone through the tree-view chart are urged to test and extend their knowledge by going through the exercises which are presented on a detailed page of their own.

Although the creator of the web site endeavored to make this site as accurate and comprehensive as possible, it cannot take the place of legal advice.  The creator cannot anticipate the misunderstandings that may result from a reader failing to read carefully what is stated here, nor the potential errant judgment of sloppy readers, nor the penchant of some website users to not realize they should ask questions when the information known to them doesn’t substantiate their conclusions.  Keep in mind too that information on this web site that is accurate for a particular time period may not be accurate for other time periods, and although the editor sought to identify such situations, not all such situations may be properly delimited.  As with many aspects of law, the application of copyright statutes can vary by locale and time.  Users of this web site asssume the risk for any actions taken by them.

A work of this kind can benefit from the assistance of others who allow their knowledge to supplement that of the author’s.  Brent Walker and Richard Roberts are acknowledged for the expertise that each provided on one passage each within this site.  In addition to these, expertise on vintage American music was provided by two authors who have devoted most of their lives to the subject: Randy Skretvedt and Miles Kreuger.  Mr. Kreuger is the embodiment of the Institute of the American Musical, a vast collection of artifacts on this subject which is in the process of seeking a physical home suitable for the grand scale of the collection.


All hyper-links mid-page other than those that take you to a location elsewhere on this page, will open in a new window.  No links within the main body of this page will load entirely new content within this window.  You don’t have to fear losing your place within this page.


The Copyright Registration and Renewal Information Chart and Web Site
© 2007,2008 David P. Hayes